YOUR VOICE COUNTS
NEW PROTECTIONS FOR ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS IN NH
Affordable housing advocates in NH celebrated a victory this session when Bill 149, which allows Senate single-family homeowners to add an accessory dwelling unit as a matter of right through a conditional use permit or by special exemption as determined by their municipalities. It takes effect in June of 2017. "By passing this law, NH has become one of a handful in the nation that requires local governments to allow accessory dwellings," said Ben Frost, Director of Legal and Public Affairs at NH Housing. "Our legislature has done it in a way that maintains as much local control as possible..." It passed with strong bipartisan support and support from the Homebuilders Association and the NH Realtors. More gets done by working together.
MEDICAID EXPANSION PASSES!THANKS!
Medicaid expansion passed. If you contacted a state rep or senator, please let me know - Eileen@nsks.org. Many thanks to all who helped in this huge effort.
MINIMUM WAGE RALLY
Granite State Organizing Project is the local organizing group for an increase in the minimum wage for low-wage (such as fast food)workers. The next rally is on East Hollis and Spruce Sts on Monday, May 16 from noon-1pm. Many low-wage workers use food pantries, homeless shelters, and other services because even full-time work does not pay the bills.
NHHPP GOOD FOR HEALTH & HOUSING-NASHUA TELEGRAPH OP-ED
By Elissa Margolin
After the monthly rent is paid, too many hard-working Nashuans don't have enough left over to pay for all necessities.
In fact, unless a NH family brings in at least $20/hr, chances are good that it is sacrificing necessities like quality child care or nutritious food merely to stay housed.
And before the state legislature authorized the NH Health Protection Program in 2014, seeing a doctor or filling a prescription was, for many families, another sacrifice made in order to keep a roof overhead.
That is why the 80 organizations and businesses that form Housing Action NH support reauthorizing the NH Health Protection Program. Our members are diverse, ranging from affordable-housing developers and financers, to community mental health centers and homeless shelters. All view access to health care as an integral way to help prevent and reduce homelessness.
A significant number of the state's chronically homeless lose their homes due to serious physical or mental illness (or both). Forced to choose between paying the rent or paying to see a doctor about a developing cough or lesion, most people choose to keep a roof overhead and hope for the best. In the meantime, the illness may progress and time missed at work costs them income. Eventually, untreated chronic or serious illness costs the job itself. Without an income, a foreclosure or eviction is inevitable. Access to health care can therefore help prevent some of the economic causes of homelessness.
Access to diagnosis and treatment for physical or mental illnesses can also help someone exit homelessness. The causes of homelessness are complex, and so is the path back to a stable, permanent home. Before the NHHPP extended access to care to more residents of the state, those treatments or medications were given only when someone landed in the emergency department.
With coverage in place, those experiencing homelessness are able to visit a doctor or clinic, a mental health counselor or enter an addiction-treatment program. From there, they may access resources that put them on a path toward a permanent place to live. That could be a return to employment or a better job due to improved health. Or, in the case of those too sick or disabled to work, it could be the documentation they need to access income supports like veterans' benefits or social security to help afford rent.
When someone is off the street, out of the shelter system and on the road to better health, it benefits everyone. It's difficult to get well living on the street or in a shelter. A safe, warm home is the best place to follow a doctor's orders, rest and heal. The ability to keep track of and follow up on appointments and medications, especially for chronic illnesses like diabetes or asthma, or mental health conditions, is hampered when you have no fixed address. When someone is not using the emergency dept. for primary care or a cold-weather shelter, that is a cost savings to the entire system.
The arrival of the NHHPP in 2014 now means 46,000 people in the state are not forced to choose between a warm home and access to medical services this winter. Let's not rescind this critical tool in the fight to end homelessness for our veterans, families and disabled residents.
Elissa Margolin is director of Housing Action NH, a statewide coalition advocating for state and federal policies and investments that preserve and increase the supply of affordable housing and help end homelessness in the state.
NH LEADS IN INCOME INEQUALITY GAP
Channel 9 news business report recently included an interview with a Carsey Institute staffer (https://carsey.unh.edu/) that focused on NH's standing in the income inequality gap. Causes: NH is the only New England state that still has $7.25 as its minimum wage; high cost of living; and the preponderance of low-wage jobs.
Action: Please call your state reps to support an increase in the minimum wage.
PANHANDLING - GETTING TO THE ROOT
A suggested ordinance to curb panhandling in Nashua was vetoed by former Mayor Lozeau.
Rather than find ways to address this increasing practice in the criminal justice system, let's look at what is contributing to the increase in panhandling in our community. The job market has changed: many jobs available for unskilled workers are part-time, minimum wage (7.25/hr) or slightly above, and with schedules subject to constant change. The use of drugs has skyrocketed as treatment programs decrease (NH is 49th in aid to treatment programs and they are hard to get into).
There are many individuals and groups asking for money/support in public spaces: scouts, athletic teams, political candidates, nonprofit helping agencies, etc., but there appears to be more intolerance of people who are asking for money for themselves because of poverty and/or addiction.
Panhandlers face inclement weather, possibly being hit by a car, and verbal abuse. Giving money to panhandlers may or may not help them and encourages other people to begin panhandling. Let's work on increasing wages and opportunities for addiction treatment instead of laws to curb behavior that can't be adequately enforced and that target poor people.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING GAP GROWS (from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition)
*1/4 of all US renters have income at or below 30$ of area median income.
*3/4 of very low income renters pay more than 50% of income on rent.
*31 affordable/available apts for every 100 very low income renters
*Homeownership and rental vacancy rates are very low-drives up rents.
*Incomes are beginning to increase slightly.
*New multifamily units are designed for higher income groups
*Continued loss of public/subsidized units through conversion to higher $.
Stir these facts and create more homelessness and poverty.
KNOW YOUR LEGISLATORS
Find out the names of your newly or re-elected state representatives and senators and their contact information at http://www.nh.gov/
and ask their support for votes on funding homelessness programs and policies that increase wages and job opportunities in NH. Thanks!
PLACE AT THE TABLE AVAILABLE FOR SHOWING/DISCUSSION
If anyone would like to host a showing of a film, A Place at the Table, which tells the powerful stories of 3 Americans experiencing hunger, please contact me, Eileen Brady, at Eileen@nsks.org or 603 889-7770.
EMAIL LIST FOR QUICK ACTION:
If you would like to be on an email list for quick action on legislative issues, please send your email to email@example.com
. I promise there will not be an avalanche of posts!
STILL OUT OF REACH
Massachusetts has more people in shelters and motels than ever before at a great cost to the state, largely because of the unaffordability of apartments/houses for those in the bottom 30-40% of income. As rents rise there, they rise in southern NH as well.
Unless the Federal budget begins to include more funds for various kinds of affordable housing, more cuts will need to happen in NH in programs set up to help those with the lowest incomes opportunities for stable places to live. Please contact your NH congressional delegation to support funds for subsidized homes.
HOW TO FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
NSK&S on FACEBOOK
Become a friend of Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter and/or Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter Advocacy Page on Facebook if you are on that social network, and encourage others to do so. It is another way to bring the concerns of some of the people in Nashua who don't get heard in most networks to a broader audience. Thanks!
SOME WEBSITES TO CHECK OUT
With much of federal legislation stalled or sidetracked, it is important to get the word out to our representatives in Congress that we are concerned about bills that affect homeless and hungry people in our neighborhood, a number that is growing daily due to job loss, increasing costs, and unexpected health care challenges.
SOME WAYS TO BE INVOLVED
Contact our current congressional delegation to support issues important to eradicate homelessness and hunger, to promote safe, affordable housing and enough food for all.
ATTEND A MEETING OF THE NASHUA CONTINUUM OF CARE OR THE ENDING HOMELESSNESS COMMITTEE
The Ending Homelessness Committee welcomes citizen involvement - contact Eileen@NSKS.org for more information. Come to one meeting or lots of meetings.
The Continuum of Care meets on the first Wednesday of each month (except for July) at 8 am, usually at Nashua City Hall. Usually there are 35-45 people representing agencies, businesses, faith communities, students, organizations, as well as present and/or formerly homeless people. The Ending Homelessness group meets at 9am, immediately following the Continuum of Care meeting.